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Are boutique exercise classes worth the high price?

Orangetheory Fitness. CorePower Yoga. Pure Barre. Do you know someone who is a devotee to one of these boutique exercise classes? The classes range in prices depending on the membership package, but generally, a drop-in rate is $25 per class. That is almost 5 Starbucks tall soy lattes! The average cost of gym memberships is $58 per month. Running or walking outside is free. As a financial nerd and someone who exercises regularly, it made me wonder if the classes are really worth the higher prices.

Me at any class requiring coordination. The Mindy Project, Hulu

For me, it all started innocently enough with a Groupon. In past years, when I tired of running in the cold (free! but not fun), I would sign up for steeply discounted exercise classes to add a bit of variety to my winter workouts and, honestly, to be indoors. 

Most of the time I ended with my little experiments after 2 classes. I’m thinking of you, Zumba Class of January 2011, when there was a “dance battle” portion of class with 3 other unsuspecting strangers in broad daylight and a mirrored wall… I still shudder thinking about it.  

This was my instructor.

In December 2018, I decided my new experiment would be CycleBar. For my first class, I walked into the clean, modern locker room filled with cute, super-fit women wearing variations of lululemon and Spiritual Gangster gear. Intimidation factor – red alert!  Maybe my ratty, hooded college sweatshirt with holes on the elbows was not the right choice.   

Already feeling uncertain, my eyes focused on the stunning platinum blonde instructor with a skater haircut and a body that pulled off her all-white spandex outfit. 

I was ready to fake illness and flee to the safety of my car. Then I remembered I had survived a Zumba dance battle with someone over 65 that I did not win. How bad could this one class be?  I took comfort in knowing I signed up for the bike hidden in the back corner. 

The lights dimmed and the music came on.  The premise of CycleBar is to “ride to the beat” of the music. Admittedly, this was, and is, a challenge for someone as uncoordinated as me.  

When I heard the Biggie/Tupac remix play (East Coast/West Coast compilation that would make them both turn in their graves) and the positive, but not cheesy, mantras of “RISE UP”, “YOU CAN” and “YOU ARE WORTHY”, I was hooked. Sh#t. 

Most of us have a limited amount of dollars and time to spend.  Study after study finds that we spend our money based on emotions and feelings rather than numbers.  I advise my clients to spend their dollars in ways that align with their life priorities, to really think about their “why”.   For me, a high life priority is mental health.  Building a business and managing the demanding needs of my children, I often forget about myself.  Sound familiar?  Of course, I would love to attain Jennifer Aniston’s body, but that’s not why I exercise.  Of course, I could go to a cheaper spin class, but what I am paying for (and think is worth every penny) is the quality of the instructors (my fave is Kmax!) and how I feel emotionally after a class.  Accomplished.  Inspired.  Empowered.  That is worth the $25 to me.  And let’s be honest, I love that it is only 5 minutes away from my house and that it is an indoor workout during the winter.  Priorities, people.  

Disclaimer:  These are my personal experiences.  I am not affiliated with CycleBar. This information is intended to be general in nature and should not be relied upon for personal financial use.

Financial Planning, Personal